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Senegal’s opposition leader Ousmane Sonko was charged over the weekend with plotting an insurrection, criminal conspiracy and other offenses, two months after his trial on a rape charge sparked deadly riots across the country, Reuters reported.
On Friday, Sonko was detained following a scuffle with security forces stationed outside his home, who he claimed were filming him without permission. He remains in custody, state prosecutors said on Saturday.
Playing videos from a laptop of Sonko making allegedly inciteful speeches, Senegal’s state prosecutor Abdou Karim Diop said he would be charged with calling for insurrection, plotting against the state and criminal conspiracy, among other charges.
Sonko denies wrongdoing and has long said the various legal charges are part of a plot to keep him out of politics.
Over the past few months, Sonko has led the movement calling for President Macky Sall to bow out of the February 2024 election because his candidacy would violate constitutional term limits. Earlier this month, in a surprise move Sall said he would not seek a third term.
Sonko, 49, was handed a two-year prison sentence on June 1 for immoral behavior toward youth, leading to protests in which at least 16 people were killed.
His followers were angry that his conviction could bar him from running in next year’s presidential election, Bloomberg reported.
A former civil servant, Sonko rose to prominence in the 2019 presidential election, coming third after a campaign that targeted Sall and the country’s ruling elite.